Steady sales growth for Diageo
Spirits group Diageo reported steady sales growth in the second half of 2012, driven by price rises and the growth in the United States of premium brands like Ketel One vodka and Bulleit Bourbon.
The Guinness maker saw sales grow 5 per cent like-for-like to £6.039 billion (€7 billion) in the half year to December, while pre-exceptional earnings per share rose 9 per cent to 60.9 pence.
The Irish market continued to be challenging, Diageo said, but sales of Bushmills rose by 28 per cent during the period.
Although sales of Guinness fell in Western Europe and North America, the brand recorded growth of 7 per cent on a group-wide basis.
Underlying sales in North America, which accounts for around a third of group sales, grew by 5 per cent, supported by price increases and double-digit growth of premium brands.
European sales, which make up about 28 per cent of Diageo's total, fell by 2 per cent as fast-growing Turkey, Russia and eastern Europe helped compensate for a fall of 19 per cent in crisis-hit southern Europe.
Faced with sluggish growth in recession-hit European economies, Diageo has been on a buying spree as it looks to tap burgeoning middle classes in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where it aims to make around half of its turnover by 2015.
Diageo saw underlying sales in Asia, which now accounts for abut 14 per cent of sales, rise 6 per cent, weighed down by a contraction of the whisky market in South Korea that Diageo already flagged when it reported July-September results.